Severe casualties and mass executions occurred in Afghanistan's Kohistan region north of Kabul during a recent joint Soviet and Afghan military sweep against guerrilla forces, according to a French medical team just returned from the Panjshir Valley.
Monitor special correspondent Edward Girardet reports that more than 1,000 civilians and guerrillas were killed in the 11-day sweep at the end of January and early February, according to French nurse Marie-Paul Soleiler. Western military analysts in London, who had earlier received intelligence reports citing at least 600 dead, said the casualties, if correct, would be unprecedented since the Soviet invasion in December 1979.
Miss Soleiler said the medical team was told of the casualties by local resistance leaders and hospitalized victims from the fighting, as well as by some of the hundreds of men who fled Kohistan to the Panjshir in order to escape the sweep.
Most of those killed were machine-gunned by primarily Soviet troops, Miss Soleiler said, but 18 old men from the village of Bulareh were also reportedly herded together, doused with gasoline, and burned alive.
The team, which was sent to Afghanistan by International Medical Aid, one of the three Paris-based relief organizations clandestinely operating inside resistance-held territory, said some 1,500 men from Gulbahar and other towns and villages were immediately conscripted into the Army and shipped away. Another 750 were shunted off to Pul-e-Charki prison in Kabul.
Miss Soleiler, who returned to Paris earlier this month, said Afghan troops participating in the sweep collaborated with the resistance by allowing guerrillas and civilians to escape into the mountains.